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Keeping Up With the Purges
Xi Purges Chinese Intelligence Community

Xi has been working hard to consolidate power and purge China’s government and Party leadership. The crackdown is taking a toll on China’s intelligence services, according to David Ignatius:

The [Ministry of State Security] has replaced two vice ministers within the past four years, after reports of political infighting and scandal. The current minister is said to be a figurehead, with the real power held by a hard-line Xi loyalist who was drafted last year from the party’s discipline commission.

This shake-up within the intelligence service mirrors China’s broader political turmoil, stemming largely from Xi’s anti-corruption campaign. This effort, which began soon after Xi became Communist Party chief in 2012, has targeted prominent military, security and political figures — and created what many China-watchers say is a backlash against Xi.

Recent newspaper headlines convey the unrest that’s swirling in China: “Grumbling mounts in China, even in the party. Is President Xi losing his grip?” asked a Post news article this week. “Anonymous Call for Xi to Quit Rattles Party Leaders in China,” the New York Times reported. But experts caution that despite such talk, Xi’s hold on power probably remains firm.

Xi may be safe, but his efforts to shake things up and instill order in the Party are cause for plenty of concern. Every story about another crackdown on disloyalty, dissent, or corruption is another indication that Xi worries about the ability of the Party of retain its hold on power. In past years, strong economic growth gave the Party its legitimacy. With such happy times apparently over, Xi seems to believe the Party needs to change its grip if it is to remain in control. So the harsher the crackdowns get, the more it looks like Xi—who knows as much about China’s true economic stability as anyone—is worried. That should be cause for concern among China watchers around the world.

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  • Kevin

    Is Xi motivated primarily by a desire for increased individual power or to strengthen the CCP in the face of the coming economic slowdown? I think the former motivation explains his actions well enough.

    • Andrew Allison

      I thought the same thing while reading the post.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    This is all reminiscent of Stalin’s purges. Communist dictatorships are organized on a tripod of power centers, the secret police, the military, and the party. To consolidate power Stalin purged which ever leg of the tripod was strongest at the moment, and then moved on to another. This appears to be what Xi is doing, if in a slightly less lethal fashion. This has the benefit of a strategic principle I call “The New Broom Sweeps Clean”, which is the only force for improvements in a Monopoly. This principle is a very poor substitute for the “Feedback of Competition” that provides both the Information and Motivation that forces continuous improvements in Quality, Service, and Price, in free markets.
    Most people in the west will say that a Democracy is superior to an Authoritarian Government because it legitimizes the leadership with the consent of the governed. But this is wrong, the reason Democracies are superior to Authoritarian Governments is that the Political Leadership is subject to the “Feedback of Competition”, and this reduces the corruption over 100 fold. For example; the top 70 Chinese officials have a networth of over $100 billion despite working in government for tiny salaries their entire lives, while the top 538 American politicians have a combined networth of $3 billion and most of their wealth was obtained before they ever took office, that’s a 250 fold difference.

    • GS

      Read Conquest’s work: Stalin’s techniques were different: purge, but then purge the purgers and blame everything on them, for they make excellent scapegoats. Rinse and repeat the cycle as needed. The trouble with it [as a technique] is that it could work only in the sufficiently primitively organized societies.

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